Life of a vegetarian

Being a vegetarian means that you don t eat meat. No chicken, no fish, no cow or pig.

As simple as it sounds… My grandma never really got it. “I know you don’t eat meat…but you could eat at least sausages.” At the age of three I stopped eating meat. I started realizing where the steak on my plate came from. My grandma might be the reason why I did. She had a little farm with a few chickens, rabbits, ducks and pigs. Every time one of them would disappear she would tell me that a cat got it. I started hating cats that day and never had second thoughts when my grandma would serve chicken the next day. One day I looked for my favourite rabbit “dotty”. I collected all kinds of leafs to feed my little buddy. But when I opened the barn door there was no Dotty hopping to me. He wasn’t there. Grandma said the cat got it. Willing to kill that stupid cat, I went outside, looking for something heavy I could throw at it. The candy my grandma gave me to comfort me and distract me from my sadness about Dottys dead tasted old and I wanted to throw it in the trashcan outside in the farmyard. When I opened it I was shocked. A black and white dotted rabbit skin. The remains of Dotty. For a second I thought about the possibility of a cat throwing it’s leftovers in a trashcan. But I was pretty sure that the cat didn t have anything to do with this crime. From this day on I stopped eating meat. We ll I have to say that my parents tricked me into eating chicken nuggets and fried fish for a few more years by telling me that there was no actual meat in there. The more things I discovered that where made of (or contained meat) the more I annoyed my parents.

Year later, at the age of 14, I heard that what I did made me a vegetarian.

I didn’t feel comfortable being labled. But there was much more to come than just having a stupid name. Stereotypes that vegetarians only eat grass or wait under a tree for the apple to decide that it wants to end its life an get eaten, followed me to the day.

I surprised many people by not wearing burlap bags or running around hugging trees.

I recognized that people I told that I am a vegetarian react pretty offensive by letting me know that my eating behaviour will kill me one day or implied that I wanted to turn them into vegetarians, too (which I never did). They often tent to describe very detailed how much they love meat and that, when they see a cow on a range, their first thought is “steak”. Other reactions where more like an excuse (I never asked for). Sentences like: „Well I don’t eat a lot of meat either“ or „After the last documentary about the meat industry, I was so shocked I didn’t eat meat for like two days”. But no matter how they reacted they always reacted somehow. By mentioning that I don’t eat meat I caused so many unwanted discussions. From the relevance of meat for the growth of the brain back in the Stone Age to the “fact” that not eating meat shortens your life.

This might be a good time to mention that I don’t want to discuss the fact that I don’t eat meat and whether it’s good, right or stupid. It was my decision to not eat meat as long as seeing and knowing how it’s made makes me want to throw up. That’ s it. I don’t claim to be a better person or live healthier. But I am also convinced that the way most people see meat as a good that can be produced and grown under the worst conditions, is a sing of our poor moral. For such a modern and open-minded society we claim to be, we treat the animals we eat even worse than 100 years ago.

More and more people start to think that way. More and more people care where the food they eat comes from and how it was made. Being a vegetarian became something that people understand and even respect. The last time I tried to order something vegetarian and a confused waitress offered me fish is a few years ago. And I can’t even remember the last time I asked if they had any vegetarian dishes and the waitress responded, “Oh sure! Turkey or chicken?”. The range of vegetarian products increased.

Statistics indicate that in Germany there is a trend toward a vegetarian lifestyle. Back in 1983, only about 0.6% of German were vegetarians. Statistics from the “Federal vegetarians” of 2008 say that about 6 million vegetarians are living in Germany, representing 8% of the total population. The “European Vegetarian Union” is even talks of 9%. This result may be surprising since Germany is known as the homeland of schnitzel and roulade but might explain the fact that the traditional German cuisine is displaced slowly, especially from the Italian and Asian cuisine, which are less meaty.

Where the trend comes to vegetarianism?

Many people, especially after the food scares of recent years felt a willingness to change their eating habits and reduce the consumption of meat. The uncertainty about the origin of the goods is getting bigger and many fear that the quality of the meat which you can buy in the supermarket, still continues to decrease. Added to the fear of health damage caused by tainted meat or swine. After the BSE cases from 2001, for example, a strong increase in the number of vegetarians in Germany could be felt. Now it is very likely that decide on the basis of the current dioxin scandal, in the coming months many people for a vegetarian lifestyle.

Those things didn’t make me a vegetarian. But they definitively approve to me that my decision to not eat meat was the right one for me.

Photo: Not Vegetarian Dish, Photo: kmakice, License: Creative Commons by-nc-sa/2.0

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